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Cisco Takes Aim at Smaller Businesses

Among the introductions is a new Catalyst Express 500, which offers dirt cheap, manageable 10/100 and Gigabit switching that compares favorably with products from Layer 2 switch competitor Hewlett-Packard. The switches, which include no command-line Interface, can be equipped with Power over Ethernet and managed by Cisco's Network Assistant 3.0. This newly released version offers quick VLAN provisioning, drag-and-drop software upgrades and security tools that work with a "slider" like the one in Internet Explorer. Cisco also says its new Cisco IP Communications Express Quick Configuration Tool will slash phone provisioning time.

Cisco may have gone a step too far with its introduction of XML-based phones, but it's clear that the company is taking the SMB market seriously. We're not crazy about a "security by slider" approach, but the name of the SMB game is to make support easier while providing lots of features at a low cost. The new features can only benefit the SMBs and their channel partners.